Congolese president warns against interference in election process

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DR Congo President Joseph Kabila, has warned foreign and Western powers against interfering in the country’s politics, specifically calling them out for using ‘blackmail’ to influence the electoral process.

Kabila, who ended speculation by signaling he would not seek re-election, has been facing Western pressure not to seek a third term after clinging to power when his second and supposedly final stint in office ended in 2016.

“What we have rejected over these past two years is any kind of imposition, or any kind of blackmail as far as the electoral process is concerned,” Kabila said in a speech to the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

What we have rejected over these past two years is any kind of imposition, or any kind of blackmail as far as the electoral process is concerned.

“We will continue to be steadfast and be very much alert on this particular issue as we prepare for the upcoming elections by the end of this year,” Kabila said. He gave no further details.

In recent months, he kept the international community guessing as to whether he would try to run again.

He designated a former interior minister and the head of his PPRD party, Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, as the ruling bloc’s candidate in the 23rd December elections.

Britain, France and the United States had been urging Kabila to state clearly that he would not seek another term, fearing an eruption of violence if he did not step aside.

On 6th August, two days before the deadline for filing election bids, reports said, the United States was ready to impose further sanctions on the DRC to “squeeze” Kabila’s family and “his finances.”

Analyst says Kabila’s move has eased tensions in the DRC but the volatile country remains gripped by uncertainty.

Suspicions run deep that Kabila, by picking a loyalist, wants to wield influence behind the throne.

Last year, he rejected mediation efforts by SADC which had appointed former Namibian president, Hifikepunye Pohamba as a peace envoy.

Bidding farewell to fellow leaders, Kabila, 47, described his long rule as “a journey and a mission to reunify the country”.

“A journey that ultimately led us to the first elections in 2006 and later in 2011,” he said.

Namibian President Hage Geingob, who is hosting the SADC summit in Windhoek, thanked Kabila “for having carried out the groundwork for elections to take place in the Democratic Republic of Congo, as scheduled in December 2018”.

Leaders of the 15-member SADC bloc are meeting for a two-day summit to discuss regional issues which are expected to include Zimbabwe’s post-election bloodshed.

Hauwa Mustapha